Novak Djokovic: ‘sending a message’ red hot form to Australian Open rivals | TSTIME | Tennis

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Dismantling high-flying opponents back-to-back in the final stages of a Grand Slam is no mean feat, even for a great TSTIME. Still, Novak Djokovic is not getting carried away after backing up his masterful fourth-round Australian Open show against Alex de Minaur by cruising past World No. 6 Andrey Rublev in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

“I can’t really say this is as confident as I’ve ever felt because I’ve had some incredible seasons,” Djokovic said after racing to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 quarterfinal win against Rublev. “[Some incredible] years here at the Australian Open, some matches that are really unforgettable for me. [It is] hard to compare because I’ve been lucky enough to have really great success at the Australian Open.

“But [the] last two games, playing against two guys who are really good players, players in form, to beat them dominantly in three sets… That’s definitely something I want at the moment. Something that sends a message to all my opponents who are still in the draw.”

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Djokovic is 10-0 for 2023 after beating Rublev. Despite being hampered by a left hamstring problem, the 35-year-old has made relatively seamless progress into the last four in Melbourne, where he can match Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam crowns and return to number one. 1 in the world by taking home the trophy. . He is now in a familiar position at the opening major of the season.

“Of course, with this kind of game, self-confidence rises… I feel good on the field, getting better as the tournament progresses,” said Djokovic. “I’ve been in this situation so many times in my life, in my career, [and] never lost a semifinal at the Australian Open. Hopefully that stays the same.

“So far I have a perfect score on Australian hard courts [this year], in Adelaide and here. I’m playing better and better. I couldn’t wish for a better situation to be in right now.”

Next up for Djokovic as he pursues a record-extending 10th Australian Open title is Tommy Paul, now ranked No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. It will be a first tour-level meeting between the two, but Djokovic expects no surprises when he takes on the American at the Rod Laver Arena on Friday.

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“I know how he plays,” Djokovic said of 25-year-old Paul. “I never met him on the field, [but] it’s been around for a few years. I’ve seen him play a lot, especially in this tournament. He probably plays the tennis of his life.

“[He is a] very explosive, very dynamic player. Fast, very solid backhand. Likes to intervene, dictating the point with the forehand. Great, great service move… [A] very complete player. He has a coach [Brad Stine] that has existed for years with some top players.

“[It is a] first [Grand Slam] semi-final for him, so obviously he doesn’t have much to lose. I’m sure he will go out and play his best tennis.”

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Paul’s compatriots Sebastian Korda and Ben Shelton also reached the last eight in Melbourne, marking the first time three American men have reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since 2005. There will be 10 Americans in the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP. Monday rankings and 92-fold tour-level title list Djokovic welcomed the emergence of a strong squad of players from a country set to host 11 tour-level events in 2023.

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“To look, [the United States] is an extremely important country for our sport,” said the 92-time Tour-level title. “We have some of the biggest tournaments in the world played there, on the North American continent. I think it’s important that we see successful American men and women doing well.

“Historically, America has always produced top players. Now you have a list of maybe four or five young players knocking on the door of the top tier. I think that’s good for our sport. We want to see young, successful players coming from a big country [the United States]naturally.”

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